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AFCEA’s Newly Appointed VP of Membership Talks Emerging Leaders


Appointed at the beginning of the year, AFCEA International Vice President of Membership Shaunté Russell looks to grow and further engage the Emerging Leaders community. 

Prior to moving into her current role, Russell led AFCEA’s corporate membership team, where she implemented a new membership retention system, achieved a record-high corporate membership number, established long-term relations within the community and developed several new member benefit programs. 

Progression into the promotion was something that happened naturally over time, Russell said, with Tina Jordan, past VP of membership, being instrumental in her journey. 

“She definitely helped with looking at the big picture,” she said. “She helped me be able to see that just because you don’t see that there’s upper mobility, doesn’t mean that you can't find the opportunity.” Staying the course could lead to doors opening, Russell shared.  

“One of the primary things I’ve done is task the team with coming up with engagement strategy for emerging leaders because that is the future of our organization,” Russell told SIGNAL Media.  

Before joining AFCEA, Russell held positions in industry as well as government contracting, supporting the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration. 

“Even prior to coming to AFCEA, being a primary point of contact for a corporate membership, I wasn’t aware of all the things AFCEA had to offer until I came on board,” Russell stated. 



AFCEA’s Emerging Leaders program offers professionals 40 years old and younger opportunities to network and learn from senior leaders, while additionally holding board-level representation in the organization. Members are also given the opportunity to get involved in SIGNAL Media’s Disruptive by Design series—whether they look to write in a monthly issue or participate in a podcast.  

The podcast allows emerging leaders to voice their perspectives on navigating being an early career professional and what’s at stake for defending the U.S. and allied interests around the world. Members also share their thoughts on emerging technologies and trends they see in the modern landscape. 

“It’s really working to see how we can articulate what those benefits are to the people we want to make sure are engaged and remain engaged because they’re going to continue the legacy of AFCEA,” Russell explained. 

Her love for the organization shines outside the clock. “I have a hard time being out and about and not talking about AFCEA,” she shared. “It’s so energizing . . . I’ll be at a baseball game and it’s just hard not to let people know about AFCEA and SIGNAL and what all we have to offer.” 

For Russell, volunteering as a president of a parent-teacher association and coaching a sports team has been great preparation for her new role at AFCEA. 

“We’re an organization powered by volunteers,” she said. “With our prestigious awards programs to STEM scholarships to letting people know about membership, we wouldn’t be able to do all that we do without the help of all the people beyond Fairfax.” 

Interested in writing an article for the Disruptive by Design column or being featured in a podcast? Contact Kimberly Underwood for more information. 

Join AFCEA and the Emerging Leaders Community